Lessons And Gifts From The Beach

Little feet running through the waves, heads dipped in sandy puddles and towels wrapped around a chilly mama...pure bliss. We found ourselves quite spontaneously in one of my favorite places in Maine as we accompanied Patrick on a business trip. He went and ate lobster and steak in a fancy beach house overlooking the water and the kids and I sat ourselves down on a huge stretch of sand and had a sandy popcorn, strawberries and sandwich lunch. Both lovely options for a day at the beach!!!

The sky eventually poured down on us and luckily we had a car full of towels. The kids each chose one rock to bring home and Eli has lost his about 8 times in the past week. He looks around for it everywhere, calling out to his perfectly round black stone. Our backyard garden holds so many special gifts from the beaches, rocks and stones and pieces of wood.

I have been working a lot. Running your own business, especially one that helps others live their best lives can be a bit consuming. My passion for what I do makes me want to go at a pace that sometimes brings me to burnout. I remember Oprah saying recently to Geneen Roth that she lost herself somewhere in trying to help everyone else. A few weeks ago I understood that feeling. I was forgetting to have fun and take days to just enjoy. I was forgetting to take my own advice and give in to FUN a little bit.

When I am on this beach I feel relaxed and peaceful and full of balance. I can capture that feeling and find ways to bring it with me, to my work, to my clients, to my home. This is the town where I was married, where I spent countless summers, where I would dream of seeing the little feet of my children running on the sand, someday. Being a mother isn't the dreamy life I pictured before the children came, no one can prepare you for the part of yourself that will feel lost and stuck some days (or the hormones). There is no way to explain that being alone will take on new meaning when you have 5 minutes with no one around after chasing 3 children all day. There is also no way to explain how you grow into your motherhood and own it with a passion and a purpose that was not there before. How you become a mama bear to your cubs, watching them eat blueberries until they might pop and taking such pleasure in simply feeding them. This job, motherhood, takes work. It requires a patience that most days, I struggle to find. It also reminds me that to be the most powerful mother I must be the most powerful woman. I must own my strength and purpose, so that is what I seek to do and guide others to do.

On the way through town we stopped into the cute little candy shop and the kids picked a few pieces (balance) and Patrick and I found these dark chocolate coconut candies that were awesome. Patrick announced the next day that it would be good to know how to make them, and so, I did. My version of these little Chocolate Coconut Drops is my little gift from the beach to you.

Reminder that the Live Call All About YOU is coming this Monday, register here to get your spot on the call. It is so important to take some time to focus on YOU.

Chocolate Coconut Drops

1 cup coconut

pinch of salt

2 cups of dark chocolate bar, broken up

1 Tb honey

1 Tb maple syrup

2 Tb coconut oil

2 tsp vanilla

In a 350 degree oven, toast the coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 4 minutes (use a timer). Watch it closely or it will burn, you want it to just start turning a light brown. Remove, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, allow to cool. Melt the chocolate, I use a saucepan, you could use a double broiler. When the chocolate is soft add in other ingredients, stir until combined, add in the toasted coconut. Using a teaspoon, drop chocolate onto parchment paper. Place the chocolates in the freezer for 10 minutes, then transfer to a container and store in the fridge. In the heat, you will want to keep them cold.

Women Food and God-The Discussion and Winner

The winner is.....

6512 and growing

I just tried to interlibrary loan this book from my library but was told it’s too new. So, I would love a chance to read it through your generosity. Thanks for sharing your very real, common, normal journey. May our daughters never face struggles with body image.

Last night I met with a beautiful group of women to discuss Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth. This book has caused quite a stir since Oprah caught on to the fact that we must stop dieting to start fully living and loving. I'll take you through some parts of the discussion.

"Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are. Something happens to every one of my students when they stop running their familiar programs about fear and deficiency and emptiness. I don't know what to call this turn of events or the freshness that follows it, but I know what it feels like: it feels like relief."

This is where we entered the discussion and kept finding ourselves coming back to "it feels like relief" and "something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are." We talked about the relief in not fighting our bodies and in showing them kindness. One participant talked about how in her entire life, not just with food, when she stops fighting and accepting where she is, there is a relief. The question I asked them and now you is, "Where could you be kinder to yourself? What thoughts or actions could receive more kindness?"

One woman said she was confused because she had used food as a way to be kind to herself, getting through some really tough struggles that life had presented over the last few years. Through the toughness she showed herself "kindness" with food. And yet, that kindness is a numbing, a protection so we do not have to feel the tough stuff. So we can move through with less of the feelings that seem just too hard to bear.

A mother of three young children expressed the desire to be more kind to the feelings that the choices she is making now, are somehow damaging my children. "I keep coming back to the relief" another woman said. Relief that we don't have to feel bad about ourselves and knowing that there is a path through those thoughts that continue to push us down.

My husband and I have taken to openly emotionally eating. When we stand in the closet with the bag of corn chips or eat directly from the open fridge we announce or announce for the other, we are emotionally eating and state why. For me it is usually the whine of my little guy or the fighting of my children and I go right to the fridge to find the escape from having to address what comes up for me. The tough stuff is feeling inadequate as a parent, or feeling as though I don't have enough support or space to be the parent I thought I could be. When you start becoming connected, you notice that maybe the half bag of corn chips becomes one handful, then opening the pantry and closing it before retrieving the salty crunchy conspirators. Finally, reaching out for support, calling a friend, putting the baby in the stroller and going for a walk. It becomes sitting the fighting children down (instead of yelling) and asking them to make of list of 5 things they would like to do today and 1 thing they would like to do for someone else. The fridge stays closed. A breath. Feel it, move through it, come safely to the other side.

"I believed there was an end goal, a place at which I would arrive and forevermore be at peace. And since I also believed that the way to get there was by judging and shaming and hating myself, I also believed in diet

Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic."

Many of us admitted to being a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. We talked about those extra 5-20-50 pounds that we are holding onto and if we could just get rid of those we would be happy...for the 5 minutes until they came back. One of our participants was anticipating a 20 year high school re-union in just a week. She knew she could easily lose the 5ish pounds that were making her uncomfortable in her skin, but knowing inside that she would simply be continuing on the same path of the 5 minute weight loss.  She thought perhaps just this last time. I asked her how doing that no longer would serve her? She wasn't sure because being 5 pounds thinner seemed to serve her walking into a room full of old acquaintances. We laughed thinking of the men who have gone bald and there was no quick fix for them! Eventually understanding that she would simply be continuing the cycle of diet for a brief moment of happy-thinness brings her right back to where she started. We can put it off or we can face it directly, look at ourselves in the mirror, and promise to continue forth with kindness, love and support of our bodies and our minds.

"If love could speak to you about food, it would say, 'Eat when you are hungry, sweetheart, because if you don't, you won't enjoy the taste of food. And why should you do anything you don't enjoy?' If love could speak to you, it would say, 'Eat what your body wants, darling, otherwise you won't feel so well, and why should you walk around feeling tired or depressed from what you put into your mouth?' If love could speak to you, my little cream puff, it would say, 'Stop eating when you've had enough, otherwise you will be uncomfortable, and why spend one minute in discomfort?'"

I told the group, who were now clearly bonding through this open dialogue, that I make high protein cookies and I let the kids munch them for breakfast and usually in their lunch. (I will put my cookies up against a waffle with syrup any day!) When they ask after dinner what is for dessert I remind them of how they started the day. "Oh yeah" is usually the response and then they go about their business. We spend so much time avoiding the things we really want, yet thinking far too much about them. How many calories do we eat while avoiding the thing we really want? If we were to give ourselves permission for the thing that is on the "don't eat list" we could perhaps free up a part of ourselves that functions on the restricted, the bad, the off-limits.

To close the evening, we went around in a circle reading the Eating Guidelines. Hearing these beautiful, strong woman read clearly the simple truth that is inside each of them touched my heart. In my work I guide my clients to find the simple truths inside of themselves for themselves. The path to my healing may look different than that of another, but the simple truths are the same. It takes support and kindness and willingness to believe that if love could speak it would want us to do the things that we enjoy and that bring our body health and vibrance and joy.

Thank you to the woman of the book circle last night. I find my mind wandering back to all that was said and feeling so grateful for the steps to kindness you are all taking.

"In each moment of kindness you lavish upon your breaking heart or the size of your thighs, with each breath you take-God has been there. She is you."

Holistic Health Book Club meets the last Monday of each month at Books on The Square, Providence, RI.  I will be your guide.

Women Food and God In My Life (and a give-away)

When I was 16 I experienced my first heart break. I was not equipped with the tools to handle the loss and my parents were going through their own sadness coming to a divorce. In my sadness I couldn't eat. It may have been the first time I can remember not being hungry or drawn to food. I was a mayo, mustard, cheese, lettuce, pickle, white bread kind of girl. With a side of chips or fries. And a diet coke (right, because of course). In the non-hunger I started to loose weight. Since I can remember I have had a belly, the one below the belly button, though after 3 babies, above too. I was the only girl who wore a t-shirt over her leotard in ballet and tap class. The teacher told me I wouldn't be able to wear it for the recital. I can remember being a young girl and my best friend and I were having a sleep over. I was always aware of the fact that the darn belly was there. She told me it was probably baby fat and it would go away.

When I stopped eating at 16 it did go away for the first time. I "learned" then that I couldn't control many things in my life, but I could control what I ate and how I looked. As dieters know, with the restriction comes the binge. So after spending some time controlling my food, I would then turn to food to also get through the tough stuff. I managed to keep my weight fairly steady. Until the next heart break in college. This time limiting my food no longer seemed an option, I wanted to eat and stuff the pain down. I wanted to be one of those girls who didn't form life long attachments to every (all 2 at this point) guy that she fell for. But there I was. Wondering why I needed every plastic sugar coated doughnut from the vending machine in my dorm and why I was starting to feel uncomfortable in my skin.

I obsessed about many other things when I was younger, creating a high level of anxiety that I never realized. The gap between my teeth, my large lips, my knees, skinny legs, flat bum... I never practiced looking at the things I admired. Today some of my former obsessions are things I admire. Full circle.

I have tried most diets. My favorites were the South Beach Diet and the liquid protein diet for every meal. Those were effortless to me and worked to take off belly fast. I felt a sense of control with each diet and with all of the results. As dieters know, with the restriction comes the binge. When I enrolled in school to become a Health Counselor, Lucas was 4 months old. Usually around 6 months I would start dieting the weight off. Knowing that I needed to heal this part of me, I made a commitment to never diet again. Healing instead of controlling, a new plan for my life as it was taking on a new direction. SCARY.

I wasn't sure I believed I would lose the weight. I also knew that I would most likely have to learn to love a body that didn't fit into my idea of perfection, a hard thing to let go of. In my journey, I discovered how powerful thought is. How we can use thought to create the life we chose to live. I have chosen to live life in a body that I appreciate for it's health and ability to make and grow beautiful babies. To have a body that can be sexy and motherly all at the same time. Nursing in heals and sequins will bring that out in you!

I never gained a large amount of weight until I was pregnant with Chloe, putting on 64 pounds. South Beach took it off by the time Chloe was a year old. I am what is called a disordered eater, common among women. We have a small window of weight where we feel extremely happy with ourselves to depressed and not fitting our clothes. For most of us, that number can be small, an eight to ten pound range. For others it can be a larger number.

It is still challenging for me to put pictures of myself on my blog or newsletter, but time and practice are making it easier. I regularly take self portraits now to help calm my nerves in front of the camera. My daughter takes most other pictures of me and forces me to smile with my teeth showing because she says I look beautiful that way.

I work on emotional eating and healing the inside with my clients. It seems to have become the path that, dare I say, chose me. I've been experiencing a magical moment in my own life, having just hit the 1 1/2 year mark of not dieting, not restricting, of fully feeling and fully living in my body. I turn 36 in September and I will be able to say that my dieting lasted 18 years. When I turn 36 I will acknowledge that 16 year old, who felt her only choice to get through the pain was to find something to control. She seems so young and full of fight. Insecure and yet so sure that she was here for something great, something big. She is the one who brought me to where I am now. Working with women to heal themselves and live their greatest vision of themselves.

One of my clients, a beautiful and creative woman recently wrote and thanked me for following my bliss and doing this work. She said other nice things that I'm too shy to share at the moment, but that touched me so deeply. That inspires me because we all have the choice to live with energy, passion, abundance and joy. The more people who experience that, the more this world will heal.

This post danced in my head for the last few days. It was hard to write, yet I could not sleep until it was finally words visable. I offer up bits of my story as I feel ready. The first that I wrote which was deeply personal, did more to help and encourage than any other. The feedback which I am still receiving is touching and motivating. For me it is part of healing my past, and part of the forgiveness I have chosen to show myself and others. It is part of my journey to that deeper spiritual place. Of Women Food and God in my life.

I am leading a Holistic Health Book Club in Providence, RI. The first book will be Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth. I would like to encourage you to join the conversation in this space by sharing with us what you feel passion for. If you feel moved to share a bit of your relationship with food, your journey is sure to reach someone and inspire them. Each comment will be entered in a give-away for a copy of Geneen's book. Give-away will close on June 28th at 7:00pm eastern time and be announced on June 29th (the night of the book club) on this post.

Winner is.....

6512 and growing

I just tried to interlibrary loan this book from my library but was told it’s too new. So, I would love a chance to read it through your generosity. Thanks for sharing your very real, common, normal journey. May our daughters never face struggles with body image.